Diversity in the fashion industry is still a major issue, despite models working to change that. There is still much progress to be made until we can call the industry truly inclusive.
Model Ebonee Davis is speaking out in an effort to change things. She penned an open letter addressing racism in the fashion industry. The full letter was published by Harper's Bazaar, and it is powerful.
Davis writes how she received a photograph of herself in the new Calvin Klein Fall 2016 campaign with her "nostrils wide, lips full, hair defying gravity in all its natural glory." The same day, she found out that Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police. After another shooting, Davis states she realized the importance of how she was represented in her Calvin Klein photos.
"As artists in the fashion industry, we are the embodiment of free speech. We set the tone for society through the stories we tell —fashion, the gatekeeper of cool, decides and dictates what is beautiful and acceptable. And let me tell you, it is no longer acceptable for us to revel in black culture with no regard for the struggles facing the black community."
Davis goes on to cite the extremely low number of models of color featured in runway shows, makeup artists and hairstylists who aren't properly trained to work on models of color, and people's fear to speak out as parts of the problem.
Now she is calling for a change.
Davis concludes, "We must band together to neutralize the phobias surrounding black culture. Rather than perpetuating trite stereotypes that vilify people of color, we need to produce positive, accurate and inclusive imagery." She encourages love, for people to use their personal platforms to speak out, and for makeup artists and hairstylists to expand their techniques.
Davis' letter has already begun to make an impact around the Web. It is especially important given the recent tragedies that Davis addressed.
Other models of color have spoken out before about the issues they have encountered in the fashion industry. Supermodel Jourdan Dunn has discussed racism in the industry on numerous occasions. She told The Times:
"It’s hard for black girls. A lot do give up, because if you don’t have an agency who is going to push you, you are just there doing nothing and having to deal with all the rejection."
Model Leomie Anderson has also vocalized her issues with makeup artists and hairstylists who are not prepared to work with her, and how she often has to bring her own makeup to shoots.
It is important that everyone continues to speak out about issues in the industry, because if they aren't discussed, nothing will change. As Davis' letter points out, we also need action to go with these discussions for things to be made better. And we need things to get started. As Davis said, "The time for change is now."
(H/T: The Cut)